What Happens When You Receive a DWI as a Commercial Driver?


As a commercial driver, you have a very important responsibility in your transportation role on public roads. Someone who holds a Commercial Driver’s License, also known as a Class A license or CDL, is held to a higher standard and more stringent requirements on the road. This is true not only when driving for work but also when driving for non-commercial purposes. Receiving a Driving While Impaired (DWI) charge carries escalated consequences even if the case never results in a conviction.

If you have a CDL in North Carolina and have been charged with a DWI, you need to consult with an attorney. David Coolidge, the founder of The Coolidge Law Firm, is not only a distinguished criminal defense attorney but also possesses a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding CDL DWI cases. A top 5% graduate from the esteemed Duke University School of Law, David’s commitment to justice is unwavering. Recognized by the Order of the Coif, an honor society with members like U.S. Supreme Court justices, David has chosen to leverage his expertise to defend the rights of commercial drivers facing DWI charges.

CDL DWI Before Trial

For someone without a CDL or for a commercial driver who is driving a non-commercial vehicle, with a blood alcohol level of .08 immediately faces a 30-day license suspension. For a commercial driver who is operating a commercial vehicle, however, a breath/blood test of .04 or higher is all that is required to trigger the 30-day suspension.

30-Day Suspension

The 30-day license suspension is dictated by the N.C. Civil Revocation Law. This 30-day revocation of license also occurs if the driver refuses to provide a breath or blood sample. No conviction is needed and the state doesn’t need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt for the suspension to occur. Any civil revocation for a DWI automatically requires a one-year disqualification to drive a commercial motor vehicle in addition to the standard 30-day suspension.

If the CDL holder had a prior conviction that resulted in a suspension, such as for DWI, hit and run, or driving on a suspended CDL, the civil revocation could result in a permanent CDL suspension.

Challenging the Civil Revocation

These suspensions usually occur immediately after being charged. But, the North Carolina General Statute 20-16.5 provides a limited opportunity to challenge the civil revocation. The timeframe to file a challenge is within 10 days of the start date of the revocation, so it must be filed quickly. If you miss the deadline to file, you waive the ability to file a challenge forever. In addition to the timeframe being limited, the basis of the challenge is also limited as set by the statute. Because of these requirements and restrictions, it is wise to secure an attorney who is experienced in these types of civil revocation hearings.

Commercial Driver Convicted of DWI

Upon conviction, a CDL holder faces a standard one-year suspension of his/her C license as well as a one-year disqualification of his/her CDL. Though there is the option to obtain a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) for the C license, there is no option for an LDP for commercial driving purposes. The DWI conviction prohibits Class A driving for one year.

A CDL holder who has a prior conviction for a DWI, Hit and Run, Driving with a License Revoked, or other specific prior offenses can face a permanent CDL suspension. Essentially, the CDL holder can be disqualified for one year based on the initial civil revocation before trial, and receive an additional one year disqualification later for a DWI conviction.

After Conviction

It is difficult to work as a commercial driver if you have a record of a DWI conviction or a civil revocation. Employers and insurance companies look at you as being a high risk. The DMV can place restrictions like a blood alcohol content level or .04 or .00 on the driver, or set forth the requirement of an interlock device. If a DWI conviction or civil revocation causes a permanent CDL suspension due to a prior conviction, you will have very few options and usually will need to wait a minimum of 10 years before petitioning the DMV to reinstate a Class A license.

Contact The Raleigh CDL DWI Attorneys at The Coolidge Law Firm Today

If you have been charged with CDL DWI, you need to contact Coolidge Law Firm as soon as possible in order to challenge your civil revocation, especially if you have a CDL. Missing the opportunity to file a challenge puts you in a position of having significant and long-lasting consequences. We serve all of Wake County including Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Durham, Garner, and Wake Forest. Speak to a Raleigh DWI attorney today at (919) 239-8448 or complete the contact form below.

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Client Testimonials

  • 5 stars
    I can not say enough good about David Coolidge and the Law Firm! From the moment of our 1st interaction, I could tell that David TRULY cares and has a passion about the cases he takes on. I was anxious and nervous about my case from the beginning. David immediately showed his support and listened with an empathetic ear. From that moment on, I felt as though I knew I could trust him to put his whole heart into helping me with my case. He is intelligent, kind and completely nonjudgmental. He will listen to you and is so very supportive. I really felt, and still do, that he really cared about helping me. His passion for his work and in helping others shines. We VERY HAPPILY, had a GREAT outcome from the case and I could not be happier. As I told him when we left the court room that morning... “David, you have changed my life forever”. I would recommend David and this Law Firm to EVERYONE who is reading this review.
    - Brian L.
  • 5 stars
    David Coolidge is a wonderful attorney! I hired him twice for two different cases that I had which were only 2 months apart. He's very thorough and efficient. I was even able to reach him after hours through phone calls, texts, and email. Hopefully I never need his services again but if I am in a similar predicament I would most definitely hire David again.
    - Tiffany C.
  • 5 stars
    Excellent Customer Service. I had a Speeding ticket and they resolved it positively with no points on my Driver License. They represented me in Court and by midday on the Court date, they had updated me on the outcome. Very efficient service. I highly recommend them if you are in need of Legal Services.
    - Stephen O.
  • 5 stars
    I got a speeding ticket for going 17 over. They sent me a letter in the mail explaining that I could plead improper equipment and get no points on my insurance or license. They even gave me the fees straight out on the letter including court costs. They represented me and made the ticket go away.
    - David G.
  • 5 stars
    I cannot say enough about Attorney Coolidge and his staff. He’s handed several matters for me and in every instance he has exceeded my expectations. He even answered a frantic call from me on a Saturday night. I called in desperation not really expecting an answer. Mr. Coolidge delivered on all that he promised and more. I highly recommend.
    - Craig S.
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